Winter Makes Time Stand Still

When I was a kid time seemed to pass ever-so-slowly; summer seemed almMaple_natch_fost endless and by mid-August I suffered from the “there's nothing to do” kid syndrome and actually looked forward to school starting. Until September actually arrived and school loomed on the more or less immediate horizon. (more...)

Fewer Vacant homes in St. Paul

The City of St. Paul has a vacant building program and a list of registered vacant buildings and I Hammer-1 periodically check the list to see how many homes are on the list. In September of 2008 the were over 2031 registered vacant buildings on the list and most were single family homes. That seems to be when the number peaked. Currently there are 1470 on the list. That is still a large number and not all vacant homes need to be registered. Homes are being renovated and re-sold and they are selling. (more...)

Help Wanted?

No sense beating around the bush this morning—I'm unemployed for Will Work For Coffee the first time in over twenty-five years; involuntarilly separated from my employer after over eleven years of very-enjoyable service. If you are expecting any sort of rant about this—fagettaboudit; this is my take on applying for unemployment benefits with the State of Minnesota and seeking employment. Things have changed a lot since my last experience, now instead of going to the Minnesota State Unemployment Office and applying in person, one may (and is encouraged to) apply on-line. (more...)

Do you live in a NORC?

The first time I heard the term "NORC" was a couple of years ago at the West 7th Community Center. I had to stop the meeting and ask for a definition. NORC is an acronym for Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. (more...)

The beast in the basement

Only in Minnesota do we include photos of the new furnace when we list a home for sale. The weather has been wonderful these past few days but we know we are living on borrowed time and today is the first day of winter. I wrote this post in 2008 and it continues to get traffic during the colder months when Minnesotans have to deal with the cold and the beast in the basement. (more...)

Improvement More De-cluttering

Making resolutions for the new year is easy but sticking with them isn't so easy. Again this year one of my resolutions was to get rid of stuff that I don't need. I have been making at least one trip a week to the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on West 7th street and have been dropping off a few items each time. (more...)

Put that shovel down

I have been gardening most of my life in St. Paul Minnesota. Sure were are having a super warm and early spring but starting a garden now is risky. Twenty years ago the common wisdom was to put the plants out and plant the warm weather crops at the end of May. (more...)

Is this the best time to refinance

Interest rates are still at an all time low and the common wisdom is that rates will go up but no one knows when. Yesterday I saw a news segment on TV about what a great time it is to refinance because of the lower interest rates. It is never a great time or the best time for everyone when it comes to refinancing or buying a home. If anyone tells you now is a great time to buy or to refinance without knowing what your situation is . . RUN! (more...)

Planting time in the city

From this week to the end of the month is the perfect time to start a vegtable garden. Gardening is a great hobby and popular too. It is nice to grow fresh vegetables and I can grow an impressive amount of produce on my postage stamp sized city lot. Gardening is like real estate in that it is local. If you are new to gardening here are some local resources that I think you will like. The university of Minnesota extension and they have classes too. The site is worth exploring it has a lot of information about plant care and can help with identifying weeds. Gardening can be social and here is a local site called Garden Guides where other gardeners hang out. Who knows they may be able to answer questions or give advice and there is a section on urban gardening. For people interested in community gardens see Gardening Matters there are community gardens all over the twin cities. I learned about a site at yesterdays social media breakfast called plantjotter where gardeners keep online garden journals. For new gardeners that may need advice on plants you can't beat going to the neighborhood garden center. I go to Leitners and they can answer most any question about plants and gardening. They may be able to help with plant identification too. If you have are a new home owner and you can not identify a plant ask your mother or a neighbor with a garden for help. If you don't want to grow your own veggies or start flowering plants from seeds I highly recommend the St. Paul Farmer's Market. You can't beat local Minnesota grown food including meat, cheese, honey and those wonderful fresh eggs. Did you know that landscaping is a home improvement that can give a 1000% return on your investment when it is time to sell? Maybe something worth looking into this summer.